Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Review of The American Myth of Religious Freedom

by Matthew Anger

Americans must face a hard truth. The state of Florida put Terri Schiavo to death.
-Pat Buchanan

"There's room to wonder whether the bishops fully understand the risk they run.... Their efforts reflect a lack of understanding as to just how delicate the balance between church and state is in regard to the Catholic church in America. The Roman Catholic church, it needs to be remembered, is quite literally an un-American institution. It is not democratic. The church's views ... are sharply at odds with those that inform the laws of American secular society. And its principal policies are established by the Vatican in Rome."
-David Boldt Philadelphia Inquirer

SUMMARY: "There is no such thing as religious freedom, and the reason that such an assertion sounds so shocking is that we have been completely formed by the American myth."

Kenneth Craycraft's American Myth of Religious Freedom offers a long overdue Catholic appraisal of Church-State relations. It also represents a paradigm shift among conservative thinkers outside those traditionalist circles that have hitherto been most vocal on this taboo subject. Craycraft is the first non-traditionalist to break ranks and enunciate a thorough and appropriately merciless critique of the whole notion of "religious liberty." The concluding remarks of the book (p.164) leave little room for second-guessing:

There is no such thing as religious freedom, and the reason that such an assertion sounds so shocking is that we have been completely formed by the American myth.

This position was arrived at by Craycraft as part of a reassessment, in the 1980s and early `90s, of the writings of John Courtney Murray, S J. Best known for his treatise, We Hold These Truths, Fr. Murray was unquestionably the prime architect of the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae). Given the now "mainstream" status of indifferentism in Church-State relations, it is not surprising that Craycraft's forthright discussion caused heated controversy within the neoconservative Catholic camp. This clique comprises men like George Weigel, Michael Novak, and Richard John Neuhaus, S.J. Their typically pedantic reaction merely proves how wedded the dominant Catholic bloc is to an ideology which seeks to reconcile the irreconcilables of Americanist dogma and Church doctrine.

Synopsis of the Work

The American Myth presents a closely reasoned treatise which negates decades of sentimental talk about a supposedly Christian understanding of the "religious liberty" precept of the First Amendment. Craycraft's analysis runs the gamut of recent political studies, precedent-setting court decisions, and the question of the Founders' intent, and includes discussion of Jefferson, Madison, and the formative ideas of English secularist philosopher John Locke.

The sections of the book that stand out most for their clarity and vigor are those directly treating the problem of secular American politics and ideology. Ironically, the sections which prove difficult are those which attempt an orthodox interpretation on the current Vatican response to religious liberty. Given the intellectual power of the work and its potentially pivotal role in genuine conservative thought at the turn of the Millennium, one almost hesitates to criticize The American Myth, yet the difficulties of the book cannot be conveniently shuffled aside. Nevertheless, the murky ambiguities of Vatican II are far from the most interesting or momentous aspects of Craycraft's book.

Secularization in Practice

Craycraft has a keen sense of what priorities will most impress the reader. He starts with important court decisions and well-publicized controversies over issues of traditional religion and the doctrine of “tolerance." The author presents the fruits of religious liberty. Then, having made clear the overwhelming juridical and mainstream ethical bias against orthodox belief, he traces these fruits to the source which begat them.

Among the many court cases under consideration, the most striking is the Alabama school prayer case of Wallace v. Jaffre (1985). Herein, Justice John Paul Stevens made explicit the otherwise implicit opposition of the secularist state to revealed religion. It is worth citing at length, since Craycraft deems it of tremendous importance:

The individual's freedom to choose his own creed is the counterpart of his right to refrain from accept­ing the creed established by the majority. The Court has unambiguously concluded that the individual freedom of conscience protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any reli­gious faith or none at all. This conclusion derives support not only from the interest in respecting the individual's freedom of conscience, but also from the conviction that religious beliefs worthy of respect are the product of a free and voluntary choice of the faithful [author's emphasis].

Craycraft says this is the key to deciphering the myth of religious liberty. Only "voluntary" creeds are "worthy of belief." It is the underlying raison d'être of Americanist religious thinking.

Adapting the terminology of Michael Sandel, who has studied national judicial activity in some detail, Craycraft explains that according to the Americanist concept of religious pluralism, individual rights stand paramount to any religious system. Liberalism not only rejects, but cannot even begin to contemplate, the idea that a person receives his religious and moral convictions from some outside agency (which, of course, would include God's direct action by means of supernatural grace). Thus Liberalism speaks of people in a free society as "unencumbered selves." In order for a religious experience to be "authentic" it must completely free and subjective. By contrast, "encumbered" selves (orthodox believers) can have no proper standing under the law, both as originally conceived in the First Amendment and as enacted in everyday court decisions. That is because the Catholic, for example, takes his moral guidance from a transcendent authority-a source which the secularist state does not acknowledge.

If the state does grant concessions (which it certainly does), these are only exceptions to the rule. They are pragmatic means of avoiding tension and maintaining the peace, and nothing else. One example is the exceptional ruling in favor of an Amish farmer in Wisconsin who violated that state's law on mandatory schooling for children up to the age of fifteen (Wisconsin v. Yoder, 1972). The sensible deduction from this case, and others like it, is that the state can permit exemptions to an essentially non­threatening sect like the Amish which does not challenge the federal policy of religious neutralization. As the late Allan Bloom observed, the majority of Americans who practice a form of nominal Protestantism have essentially "ceased to be Christian." Bloom believes, with good reason, that "most Americans who think that they are Christians truly are something else, intensely religious but devout in the American Religion."

In truth, Americans practice a religion that has little resemblance to historical Christianity and instead embodies Gnosticism, radical personal autonomy, and salvation unmediated by the Church. The result is that the majority pose no significant threat to the doctrine of the "unencumbered self," while traditional religious groups, both Catholic and non-Catholic, are marginalized. Though Craycraft does not say so, this marginalization of native Catholicism is presently carried out through neomodernist clerics and lay leaders who have effectively turned the faith into a "voluntary creed," though the faith being what it is, tensions are not completely eradicated, nor will they ever be. Hence, Craycraft notes the furor which erupted over Cardinal O'Connor's 1990 declaration in favor of excommunicating public figures who supported abortion. The media, representing the broad political consensus, charged that the Church was meddling in politics by pressuring Catholic politicians to adopt a stance in line with its teaching. Hence O'Connor was placing the Church above the democratic process and thereby acting in an un-American manner. These charges are no different in essence from the violent anti-Catholic Know-Nothingism of the 19th century. It is further proof of Craycraft's thesis. Revealed doctrine cannot be reconciled to a liberal theory which, on the one hand, claims religious freedom yet sets the standards for which religions are deserving of that freedom. Absolute and universal tolerance does not exist.

The Meaning of Myth

Perhaps no greater service can be done today than to warn Catholics against adopting the cultural constructs and language of their opponents. Sadly, it is something they have done for many generations, and most especially since the 1960s. Such intellectual compromise is a surer means of defeat than the most violent assault by external enemies. Craycraft is merely echoing the admonition of Dr. John Rao's brilliant essay "Why Catholics Cannot Defend Themselves." According to both men, conservatives are doomed to defeat when they try to "out-liberal" the liberals. The real coup takes place when the secularist forces his enemy to embrace the superficial definition of a word such as "tolerance," which has different definitions according to the object towards which it is applied. Conservatives are forced to be lenient towards liberal error even as liberals suppress traditional beliefs. The former accept pluralism at face value, as if it were really possible to achieve a sublime mediocrity in which everyone practices different beliefs yet agrees on some set of "common values" which allows them to live in peace. Of course, the inherent contradictions of such a middle-of-the road position are obvious. One can no more take a stand on a vague secular ethical consensus than one can take a stand in mid air.

Despite the manifold evidence such as Craycraft provides, people will claim that daily hostility to organized religion on the part of judicial and legislative officials is actually a betrayal of the Founders' original intention. They say that "separation of Church and State" means "liberty for religion," not "from religion." It is, supposedly, the true genius of the pluralistic philosophy. Before proceeding to prove that active secularization was the foundational intent, Craycraft discusses the point which is really at the heart of the decades-long debate over Church-State relations: the pluralist myth which makes misperception on the part of conservatives possible.

A myth, says Craycraft, can be understood in two ways. First, as the ancient idea of mythos, which is a set of rites, symbols and institutions that sustain a particular community. These things may not be absolutely true in themselves, but do point to some greater underlying truth about a society. The other definition of myth is something false and deliberately deceptive. For Craycraft the American experiment in religious liberty is a myth in both senses.

It is a myth insofar as, despite its claims, the liberal idea of religious liberty as canalized in the First Amendment is a particular and exclusive understanding of religion, a particular story of what we Americans think - or ought to think - about religion and society. And it is a myth in the more popular sense that, insofar as it claims to protect religious freedom in its full and authentic sense, it is simply not true. Rather than protect authentic freedom of religious thought and practice...the American myth has given rise to a set of symbols, rites, and institutions which always subject religion to itself, and often positively hinder religious practice....The American attempt to overcome political religious myth-making has not succeeded because it cannot succeed.

Based on this conclusion, the author categorically denies each of the following propositions: 1) the founding of the United States was essentially religious, and guided by Christian principles; 2) that even if strongly secular, the state affords an equal degree of security to religious and non-religious people alike; 3) that religious liberty is an obtainable arrangement in any society; and 4) that religious believers are best off in a regime which propagates religious indifference, or that such a regime is itself merely an enlightened product of Christianity. On the contrary, the only definition of religious liberty in American political discourse is one that marginalizes, if not eradicates as a significant presence, orthodox religious belief. The American story is not interested in explicitly persecuting Christianity. Toleration is a much more effective means, especially if the liberal regime is successful in enlisting the support of Christians.

Founders' Intent

Craycraft tells us that the drive to invalidate orthodox belief ("encumbered self") and the gradual co-option and neutralization of religion are not new developments. The two men credited for creating and nurturing this doctrine in its American context are Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Their mentor was the English rationalist philosopher John Locke.

Madison's role, though consequential, is not as well-known. As for Jefferson, it is astonishing how any conservative can contend that the man was "religious" (in the Christian understanding of the word). Devout Protestants of the day cursed the Unitarian statesman is an "atheist." Jefferson reciprocated by damning all forms of revealed religion as moribund myth-making. Of the Catholic Church in particular he spoke of meddling priests and "monkish ignorance." Suffice it to say, the lasting accomplishment of the Virginia Deist in American politics, and the one he most wished to be remembered for, was the Virginia Statute on Religious Liberty. This law was the prologue to the First Amendment.

James Madison's influence was at least as decisive is Jefferson's. He not only supported the secularist belief which underlies religious liberty but, more importantly, he used his mastery of the language to hat religious neutralization on a people which, Craycraft believes, still regarded themselves as essentially Christian. Madison advanced the secularist position in his famous Memorial and Remonstrance of 1785 (which opposed Patrick Henry's proposal of tax­-funded religious institutions) and in the columns of the influential Federalist Papers.

Craycraft notes Madison's deliberate irony on religious matters. In this he was following the lead of John Locke (whose notions of widespread "religious tolerance" included no clemency for the suffering English Catholics of his time). The making of the Americanist myth is fully at work in Madison's career. He knew that any proposition must not be too bluntly stated lest it rouse the latent opposition of the mass of icing and nominal Protestants. Therefore he carefully couched his terms so they would settle portably in his listeners' ears while still achieving be ubdmate aim. In the end, explains Craycraft, Madison's delicacy and patience won out over the short-lived opposition of his more religious-minded compatriots.

Some have stubbornly maintained that what Madison and others were aiming at was not a negation of Christianity, but simply "articles of peace" which would provide religious neutrality and avoid the sort of bloody conflicts which had so long ravaged Europe. Yet, as regards the Virginia politician's intent, there can be no doubt. If his well-known writings are not clear enough, we have access to his unpublished "Detached Memoranda" (made public in 1946). According to Craycraft, these "betray Madison's explicit hostility to institutional Christianity, and further reveal the theological and religious presuppositions behind his public documents." In his private writings he admits that he does not simply wish to "disestablish religion," but to actively curb and monitor it by taxing religious bodies so as to limit property-ownership to a bare minimum. By such means Liberalism would truly equalize religious opinions, physically as well as legally. For all of the fine distinctions between the American revolutionaries and the French, it was a scheme worthy of Robespierre.

Not Liberty But Neutralization

Madison's ideas dovetailed nicely with Jefferson's belief that the ideal moral framework is one in which there is a vast proliferation of inconsequential sects and independent churches, each competing with the next, in which there is no means whereby one body can attempt to impose orthodoxy upon another. Jefferson opined that the best way "to silence religious disputes is to take no notice of them." It is further validation of the argument that the First Amendment achieves the gentle but certain neutralization of serious religious activity. Attentive study of the Founders' actions and beliefs makes clear that "freedom of religion" did indeed mean "freedom from religion," since the predominant views of the 18th century held that the only moral system entitled to respect was one entirely "rational" and voluntary. Revealed religion does not make the mark.

As for last ditch attempts by conservative Catholics to claim some sort of secondary or indirect Christian influence through the role of men like Charles Carroll (Catholic) and Benjamin Rush (Protestant), they are examples of rather meager reasoning and irrelevancy. It may well be that Carroll sincerely viewed the First Amendment as "terms of peace," alleviating decades-long oppression of his co­religionists and permitting Catholicism to develop unhindered by political considerations. This, Craycraft points out, was the perception of many ordinary Americans, but certainly not those who shaped and implemented national policy. The actual course of American history, of which the current phase of obscene neo-paganism and overt anti-Christianity, is an inextricable part of the original plan to transform America into a deistic state.

Locke and His Doctrine of Toleration

It is important to say something about the originator of the "religious liberty" argument within the English-speaking world, if only because some would claim that there was an indirect Catholic influence on the Constitution via John Locke. The rather maddening and facile claim is that the liberal philosopher perpetuated the traditional natural law tradition, albeit under a non-Catholic and rationalistic guise. This is a clear misreading of Locke, since his idea of "natural law" is merely a reiteration of the Hobbesian "law of nature." This latter holds that man, in a "state of nature," is inherently alienated and individualistic. Civil society (and by extension, religious association) are artificial constructs developed to maintain peace and foster social utility. Locke's idea involves a categorical denial of the classical theory of morality and politics as handed down by Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. So much for the crypto-Scholasticism of John Locke.

The clear basis for the Jefferson-Madison neutralization of Christianity resides in Locke's Letter Concerning Religious Toleration (1685). Cutting through the baroque idiom of the period, Craycraft offers a summary:

...Locke understood that orthodox Christianity (especially Roman Catholicism) is a natural enemy of the liberal regime. But since it was not possible to eliminate the political effects of such religion by force, Locke set out to do it by reason-by reducing "authentic" religion to a set of opinions whose adherents need not (indeed, must not) consider to be exclusively true. The exclusive truth that members of this regime must hold is that no religion possesses exclusive truth, or, perhaps, any truth at all. Any person or church which rejects this "truth" is a menace to the regime, and cannot reasonably expect unqualified toleration.

That is why Locke's public opposition to freedom of worship for Catholics in 1667 is not a contradiction of, but totally in keeling with, the liberal dogma of religious liberty. Because "papists" were intolerant (they practiced an esclusive creed) they could not be tolerated. They advanced a belief, contrary to liberal-Whig position, of “encumbered selves” who would have an ethical commitment prior to the state.

Noting the impossibility of unqualified tolerance in any society, Craycraft goes on to assert that Liberalism and Catholicism are actually alike in one key respect: both make claims to absolute truth. Unfortunately, many believers today feel uncomfortable with such contentions, partly out of ignorance and partly out of indifference. It is nicer to maintain that the two creeds can affect a modus vivendi, even if one condemns the increasingly “elitist" and “intolerant" stance of politically correct secularism. One likes to ignore or deny that the Church itself has always been "elitist" and "intolerant." Such terms, of course, stick in one's craw. That is because liberals have provided stilted definitions to serve their own agenda-a version of double-think whereby "anti­elitism" equals totalitarian control, and "free speech" equals social and economic censorship of undesirable views. Just to give added proof of the real intentions of liberal thought, Craycraft cites two recent exponents of Lockean "tolerance": Francis Fukiyama (The End of History and the Last Man, 1992) and Stephen Carter (The Culture of Disbelief, 1993). Both men envision a humanist republic in which "religion" plays an active role, but only so long as it is subsumed under the monistic order in which traditional beliefs, particularly Orthodox Roman Catholicism, are eliminated (Fukiyama says so openly, while Carter broadly hints at it in his condemnations of Pat Buchanan).

The Murray Dilemma

For all the concentrated force of Craycraft's study, its impact is somewhat lessened by a protracted deflection into the realm of neo-modernist confusion sown by John Courtney Murray. To his credit, Craycraft's approval of Murray is far from unqualified. For example, he criticizes the liberal priest's reading of the First Amendment as "articles of peace." It is not, says Craycraft, that Murray believed the Founders intended it to act as such, but the cleric felt that Catholics could nevertheless appropriate the language to their own ends and make use of religious freedom as if it did mean exactly that. According to The American Myth, such an optimistic theory must be held dubious at best. Unaccountably, Craycraft maintains that Murray's reasoning was essentially orthodox, even though the brief remainder of the priest's career (he died in 1967) reveals an increasing radicalization of his teaching which ended in proposing dialogue with Marxists and asserting that civil society, not the Church, was ultimate arbiter of ethical norms in the contemporary world.

It is true that prior to the Council, Fr. Murray advanced orthodox arguments in favor of the Church's preliminary claim to religious liberty ("freedom for the Church") and the obligation of individuals to respond to its call to conservation and salvation. But that merely clouds the issue. He makes assertions that, if not in open contradiction to, nevertheless tend towards a liberal humanist rendering of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. It is the kernel of the modernist error-a theory containing both truth and error, and thus advancing error in a more subtle and unimpeded manner than would blatant heresy. To say that Murray was "conservative" relative to the liberation theologians of the 1970s is meaningless.

As noted above, Craycraft tells us that the First Amendment cannot be treated as a fundamental dictate with reference only to itself. It must be judged by an unchanging and objective standard as established by true religion. Unfortunately, Craycraft appears guilty of the very mindset he condemns when he adopts a rationale towards Murray's writing and the Council as if these things were primary sources of authority, carrying with them doctrinal status. On the contrary, one would have preferred that he had drawn the logical comparison between the deliberate irony of Dignitatis Humanae and the writings of Madison, in which radical ends are advanced in seemingly moderate and rather vague terminology.

Opportunism Rebounds

The crux of the Murrayite thesis (as contained in We Hold These Truths) can be summed up not so much as a formal rejection of the Church as repository of truth, but as a pragmatic or utilitarian compromise in the face of the reality of the pluralist society. Religious freedom "is not a per se good for Murray; it is an exigent one."

It would have made Craycraft's job far easier, and his analysis less tangential, had he simply placed Murray within the greater context of the Americanist error. Other questions, such as prudential implementation of Church policy, non-coercion (in matters of religious conversion), and natural law considerations are extremely interesting, and Craycraft does a good job handling them. Nevertheless, they are secondary to the main point of the magisterial view on Church-State relations.

Prior to Vatican II, the proper role of these relations had been explicitly enunciated in the ex cathedra statements of Gregory XVI (Mirari Vos), followed by Pius IX (Quanta Cura and the Syllabus of Errors). These pronouncements, quite unlike the tortuous language of the Council, were entirely consistent with themselves and with each other. They commanded without exception that the state has the duty to recognize and protect true religion. Further, no society can say that man has an inherent right to be indifferent to the Church's claims. But the problem in this country was not one of theory but implementation. So, rather than implement it, the theory was ignored.

The American hierarchy, which had made concessions to the First Amendment at the outset, committed itself to a "neutralist" position. In other words, they advanced Murray's expedient of pragmatism long before Murray. Compromise was a matter of convenience. It sought to put off, if not completely obviate, the unavoidable conflict between pluralism and the Catholic Faith. By the time Fr. Murray deliberated upon the matter in the 1950s, there was an underlying tension which had never been resolved and had never gone away.

Murray was honest enough to see that it could not be suppressed indefinitely and demanded a clear settlement. The old tactic of sublime apathy could not endure. The logical answer was that American thought had to be brought in line with the Magisterium. Yet Murray ingenuously sought a "third option," neither ignoring nor conforming to Catholic doctrine: he went about restating the Magisterium in a manner that appeared to justify Americanism and religious liberty. Only in this way can we begin to understand what went on, first in Murray's head, and then in the minds of the leading modernists at the Council.

On a superficial level both the Vatican and Murray said they acknowledged the legitimacy of the confessional state. Yet whether advancing the confessional state or the indifferentist one, the criterion of value offered was historical conditions, not a moral absolute. In other words, if a Catholic state already exists, that is fine, but if a non-Catholic state exists, that is also acceptable. No longer would the Vatican encourage every nation to become a Catholic state. It is, of course, merely a type of relativism which says, as Murray did indeed say, that while certain principles may be true in principle they cannot be realized in fact. Look where Murray's "pragmatism" has led us.

Unfortunately, our experience with liberal "dumbing down" inclines even the best of us to accept a false dichotomy between pragmatism and idealism, as if the former were realistic and the latter were pie-­in-the-sky. But as Chesterton quipped, "to say that a man is an idealist is simply to say that he is a man." All so-called practical approaches ultimately serve some ideal, even if that ideal is purely shallow and materialistic. The fitting conclusion, therefore, is that Murray's pragmatism does serve some principal. But it is a principal other than that of the Church, which is to "Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Murrayism is the handmaid of pluralism, not evangelization.

Relevancy Made Irrelevant

The almost instantaneous fall-out from the Vatican's outward abandonment of the magisterial teaching on the duties of state to religion hardly needs elaboration. Under the aegis of Dignitatis Humanae, the majority of bishops have handed the initiative to the prevailing liberal secular order and washed their hands of Catholic social teaching. It truly is a case of the fad for "relevancy" and rendering Catholicism completely irrelevant in the eyes of the world.

It is interesting that Craycraft's acceptance of Dignitatis Humanae is rather diffident. There is an unacknowledged disharmony between an integral understanding of religious liberty, which he so fearlessly articulates, and the "official" contemporary stance of the Church. The upshot is a pessimistic notion of Church-State relations that verges on a form of quietism, in which the Church must abandon its political involvement and concern itself solely with influencing society through spiritual means. Craycraft therefore makes the pat assertion that the alternative-official recognition of our religion by the state, starting with the supposedly ill-fated recognition of Christianity by Constantine in 313 A.D. must entail widespread corruption and diminution of the Church's primary role of spreading the faith. Such a view seems born more of reactive cynicism than sober historical consideration.

Even if the perfect Church-State relationship is never to be obtained, at least the effort to do so achieved a very high standard in centuries past. After all, the Spanish Catholic monarchy of the 16th century set about colonizing the New World with the conversion of souls as its stated primary intention. Whatever baser motives might have been in the minds of some Conquistadors, the fact is that millions of indigenous peoples were being baptized just at the very moment when much of northern Europe was apostatizing (and, by the way, overthrowing the social and political authority of Catholicism). Today, in compliance with the new pragmatist dictate, which accepts the pluralist state as the norm, those areas won to the Church at such great cost are falling away completely.

Final Assessment

The answers to the Conciliar dilemma and its unique non-dogmatic status have been ably dealt with by writers like Michael Davies and Romano Amerio (a Council peritus) and need not be detailed here. Nevertheless, one feels that Mr. Craycraft could have spared himself a great deal of grief if, instead of relying on John Courtney Murray as an authority on American religious liberty, he had turned to that unsung hero of anti-modernism, Msgr. Joseph Fenton.

Fr. Fenton was a determined opponent of the Murrayite view, who engaged in a running debate with the liberals in the years leading up to the Council. In a last ditch attempt to forestall the Americanist triumph, Fr. Fenton insisted that Church teaching bears not the slightest resemblance to the explanation in We Hold These Truths [by Murray].

It is not a matter of Catholic politic or of Catholic tactic, but a matter of Christian doctrine that, in itself and objectively, the state or civil society is obligated to give public and corporate worship to God, to pay to God the debt of acknowledgement due to Him because of His supreme excellence and because of our complete dependence upon Him. Under certain circumstances the payment of this debt may be impossible, but in any event it is definitely not a good or desirable thing to have any state withhold from God the payment of the debt of religion which is due to God.

The flaws noted in this review by no means negate the power of Craycraft's groundbreaking work. It is the most honest assessment of the Church-State issue to be published, outside of traditional circles, since the articles of Msgr. Fenton. The mere fact that it has seen the light of day establishes an important and precedent-setting step. Such a step, once made, cannot easily be retracted.

Despite its unfortunate ambiguity on the question of Murray and the Council, The American Myth inclines more to the traditional viewpoint than the prevailing neo-modernist one, while the chapters discussing American political and cultural concerns are irreproachable. One is inclined to agree with a colleague of Mr. Craycraft, who says that the upshot of his analysis must necessarily be "a return to the old pre-Conciliar view."


Matthew Anger has written for traditional Catholic journals on history, politics, literature and popular culture. He was an assistant editor for the Puri­tans' Progress series, published by Angelus Press. Mr. Anger currently resides in Richmond, Virginia with his wife and four children.


Craycraft, Kenneth R. Jr., The American Myth of Religious Freedom. Dallas: Spence Publishing Company, 1999.

D'Elia, Donald J., The Spirits of 76: A Catholic Inquiry. Christen­dom Publications, 1983.

Fenton, Msgr. Joseph, "Doctrine and Tactic in Catholic Pro­nouncements on Church and State," American Eclesiastical Review, October 1961.

Murray, John Courtney, "Religious Freedom," Freedom and Man. New York: P. J. Kennedy and Sons, 1965.

Murray, John Courtney, We Hold These Truths: Catholic Reflections on the American Proposition. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1960.

Rao, Dr. John C., Americanism and the Collapse of the Church in the United States and "Why Catholics Cannot Defend Themselves." William Marra, 1995.

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